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May 12, 2011

The printed text of Equipped for Every Good Work, originally published by Discipleship Resources in 2001, has been re-released by Wipf & Stock Publishers. Here’s the link to the book page on their website:

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  1. December 29, 2011 7:51 am

    Hi Barbara and Dan,
    I cannot tell you how excited I am to find you. I realize that I am a little behind the curve, and was very disappointed not to find this material still part of GBOD. Don’t have a clue why this happened, but I can guess. When we find something really good (like Jesus’ Model of Discipleship and the Five Fruitful Practices) we (and I mean our Conferences and General Board) don’t have a clue how to work our plan! In our conference, we flit from one thing to another as soon as the going (or public criticism) gets tough. We can’t seem to stick with a perfect plan and see it to fruition. I have to say I am not one bit surprised. This is our model, and is exactly what happened in my church!

    God talks to me in the shower. I am very weird, but not crazy! I am a former Director of Discipleship (also was called Director of Programs and Ministries until I learned that Programs were killing the church and asked for my title to be changed) at FUMC in Katy, Texas. Our church is in the Texas Annual Conference – am sure you know of Bishop Huie. I was married to Jim House, a terrific and very competent Methodist minister (14th in his family) who passed away in 1995. After his death, I was devastated – left with a 14 and 12 year old son and daughter, in a parsonage with a recently obtained Political Science degree and no job. Miraculously I was called to work in the church. I loved my work! I moved to Katy, stayed through 2 pastors and worked at FUMC for 13 years. But shock of all shocks, I had to quit 3 years ago because I was so darn frustrated!

    I am a teacher (by giftedness) and have been teaching and loving it, for 30 years. I have used every curriculum the UMC offers – Disciple, Christian Believer, Adult Bible Studies, Leonard Sweet, N.T. Wright, Walter Brueggaman, Rob Bell/Nooma and recently Adam Hamilton’s stuff (Seeing Gray, When Christians Get It Wrong, etc. – I really love this guy.) I have seen a great deal of fruit in this area of my ministry. I still lead a Sunday School class of around 60 people and a Tuesday morning study of 30. I have been teaching the SS class for 13 years and the BS for about 10 years. I am not a quitter! I remarried in 1999 to a precious man who also lost his spouse to death. He is also a spirit-filled man and is very supportive of all my endeavors, praise God.

    Beyond teaching, I am blessed (cursed would be more accurate) with a mind that understands structures and their importance in accomplishing goals, missions, etc. I suppose this comes from my Political Science background where systems and processes are used to describe everything. Without a plan (or what I call good “infrastructure”) and without intention, not much happens! This is true in business, but equally so in the church. Vision may come to those who are tuned in and who are asking for such things, but unfortunately, we are the only ones who see them! In order to make that vision visible to others, there must be some plan or process to describe it. It amazes me how those in leadership do not get this. I think the abandonment of the Jesus Model by our conference had everything to do with our lack of a new structure to support it. (One that would replace the old COM model that no longer works.) I once asked Bishop Huie about this and got a blank stare. Our current pastor has no vision, and hasn’t a clue how to communicate, process or accomplish any goal, nor the inclination! It makes me sick because of the waste of time, money and lost opportunity. I have been angry for 3 years, but you know as well as I do that God will not allow this to continue!

    Our congregation went through a painful 2-year long “Vision Process” in which we finally concluded 3 things: 1. We needed to overhaul our Welcome process (there was none) to 2. Design an “Involvement” process (there was none) and 3. To assess our Facility issues. The Development Team completely ignored the Welcoming and Involvement, and went straight to the facilities! No big surprise here. Building = Success doesn’t it?
    Very soon, we are adding a huge Welcome Center to our existing sanctuary to the tune of $3 million and still haven’t a clue what we will do with this building when it is finished. We have a very sweet group who tries to welcome, but no plan. We still have no way of getting people involved. Nobody can say what our church is about, or what we are trying to accomplish in this dynamic and growing area in which we live. Our church is dying and building at the same time. I know you understand what I am saying!

    I can continue to be angry and uninvolved in the leadership of our church, or I can do what God (very recently) told me to do. When I was on staff, I had great success with the areas where I gave leadership. We grew in study, in stewardship, in our communication abilities, etc. We were working very hard on discipleship, but it was a “silo” area, not fully supported or integrated into the whole fiber of the church. Five years ago, I got a very detailed and fabulous plan (in the shower) for this whole Welcoming and Involvement. This plan had the potential to change our DNA – after all, it came directly from God!

    When I showed it to our senior minister, he thought I had lost my mind. (God’s timing is often hard to interpret. I mistakenly thought it was a plan for him to implement, or one of the other of 2 associate pastors—I was already juggling 2 full-time positions on staff as it was) It is very detailed and labor intensive. Another of our ministers had used “Equipped for Every Good Work” in her former church with great success, and immediately recognized this as a perfect way to meet the needs the congregation had mandated. The senior minister would have none of it, because it required a huge commitment from him. Without his support, all budget money was redirected to facilities, and for the last 3 years nothing has been done in preparation for these other two areas.

    Very recently, God pushed me (through my husband and a good friend) to inquire about leading these two areas. The nominations team has been trying since September to fill this “Welcoming and Involvement” slot on our Church Council, but nobody has stepped up! Wonder why? If I am going to do this, I will have to have a plan, and I do—-the one I got in the shower. I want it to be gifts based and I know that it will require a change of every heart in our congregation. I believe Equipped for Every Good Work will help us accomplish this goal.

    Our senior pastor needs me desperately, but is shaking in his boots, because he knows I know what is what. As a lay person (rather than a staff member) I will be in a position to request his involvement, and expect him to comply. He has had the opportunity in my absence from staff, to see that God was working through my ministry and has truly missed my gifts of communication, of discernment, process, and hospitality. There is nobody else on staff with these gifts. They are not mine, but God’s! I understand this
    only too well.

    Since leaving the staff of the church, I have avoided reading anything about the church!
    I was bitter, tired, and felt that I had been completely used up. Recently, through a pastor-friend, I have had the privilege to read some of Dan’s website stuff. Boy, do I feel your pain. As my friend says, I could have written this myself. It is because the Spirit of God speaks the same language to all of us, and is speaking all the time. We humans have a tough time hearing it, and this is why we would get messages in the shower, where we aren’t preoccupied with something else!

    I hope you can help me! I could design this whole plan, but like you, I don’t want to reinvent the wheel! I have used several different spiritual gifts books (Rediscovering our Spiritual Gifts for one) but am not married to it. I am going to try and order the books that you recommend for the Spiritual Gifts area and the inventory. How long will it be before Equipped is available again? What can I do in the meantime?

    Thanks for reading and understanding MY pain! I think our pains are very similar.

    Karen House Morrison
    24710 Bay Hill Blvd.
    Katy, Texas 77494

    Also, check out my blog – it is called “Theologee”. I sometimes think I am a writer!

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